Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Review: Coming Up For Air by Miranda Kenneally

Coming Up For Air by Miranda Kenneally
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: July 4th 2017
My rating: 5 stars 

Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat. All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic tryout, so Maggie feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to sacrifice in the water to win at love?

The Hundred Oaks series holds so many great memories for me, the first book Catching Jordan came out when I’d first started blogging and making friends in the blogging community. The fact that I’m still a blogger today and have come to the end of The Hundred Oaks series brings about the end of a fantastic reading journey for me. I’ve become attached to every single character in this series, I’ve loved how I’ve been able to follow them all on their journeys and see them develop into even greater individuals. With so many great characters that Kenneally has given us, I can’t really choose a favourite, but once again Kenneally has won me over with characters such as Maggie and Levi. 

I have to admit I didn’t know a lot about Coming up for Air before I started and I think this was the best decision I could have made as I ended up enjoying it so much. I enjoy how Kenneally gives us her sport romances, being the sports junkie that I am, I love following characters through their passion for sports and watching them grow and develop into successful stars. So I was thoroughly excited when I found out this book would feature on a MC who was a swimmer. I’ve always been a fan of swimming and watching all the heats or competitions when they come on. So I loved that Kenneally gave us an MC in Maggie who was continually trying to be the best, she had a rival in Roxy who was the absolute worst, she would always get into Maggie’s head, when she was trying to get her mind set for any big race. But most of all Maggie was your typical girl who was trying to balance everything in life. Swimming was her number one priority, but she also wanted to enjoy her social life before she went away to college, she had great friends in Levi, Hunter and Georgia, but she just wanted that somebody special, she had no real experience and so thought that now would be the perfect time to. I don’t know what I really was expecting, but I loved the way that things played out, I guess because I wasn’t expecting them to, but Kenneally totally made their relationship believable and not just two people pretending to be with each and help the other to get experience. I also was totally rooting for their relationship to go to the next level. I knew that there could be several barriers in the way, with both Levi and Maggie having a focus on so many important upcoming competitions, but I just wanted and needed them to make it work. I especially enjoyed the time they spent together, the development of their relationship was absolutely swoon worthy! (Also who could resist a guy that reads all the YA books?) But like I mentioned earlier, their relationship wasn’t smooth sailing, and despite the bumps that came along the way, I felt that those were necessary for our characters to develop and grow and to realise what they wanted, despite the hurt it caused along the way (I was a sobbing mess at one point!). 

Coming up for Air was another brilliant read from Kenneally, I’m actually quite sad about having to say goodbye to such great characters, but I’m sure that these are books I will come back to time and time again in the future!

Monday, 21 August 2017

Review: Shattered by Allison Brennan

Shattered (Maxine Revere #4) by Allison Brennan
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication date: August 22th 2017
My rating: 5 Stars
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | TBD | Kobo | iBooks

Over a span of twenty years, four boys have been kidnapped from their bedrooms, suffocated, and buried nearby in a shallow grave. Serial killer or coincidence?

That’s the question investigative reporter Maxine Revere sets out to answer when an old friend begs her to help exonerate his wife, who has been charged with their son’s recent murder. But Max can do little to help because the police and D.A. won’t talk to her―they think they have the right woman. Instead, Max turns her attention to three similar cold cases. If she can solve them, she might be able to help her friend.

Justin Stanton was killed twenty years ago, and his father wants closure―so he is willing to help Max with her investigation on one condition: that she work with his former sister-in-law― Justin’s aunt, FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid. Trouble is, Max works alone, and she’s livid that her only access to the case files, lead detective and witnesses depends on her partnering with a federal agent on vacation. She wants the career-making story almost as much as the truth―but if she gets this wrong, she could lose everything.

Haunted by Justin’s death for years, Lucy yearns to give her family―and herself―the closure they need. More important, she wants to catch a killer. Lucy finds Max’s theory on all three cases compelling―with Max's research added to Lucy’s training and experience, Lucy believes they can find the killer so justice can finally be served. But the very private Lucy doesn’t trust the reporter any more than Max trusts her.

Max and Lucy must find a way to work together to untangle lies, misinformation, and evidence to develop a profile of the killer. But the biggest question is: why were these boys targeted? As they team up to find out what really happened the night Justin was killed, they make a shocking discovery: Justin’s killer is still out there … stalking another victim … and they already may be too late.

My Thoughts:
I LOVE the Maxine Revere series! She’s an investigative reporter driven to solve cold murder cases.  Max can be abrasive, but she’s principled, and loyal, and underneath all the prickle she’s got a heart.  These stories start off tackling the evidence, witnesses; a bit crime procedural, but the tension increases bit by bit as we get closer to the truth! Shattered was a nail-biter by the end!

Maxine is approached by a John Caldwell, a former boyfriend from college, when his wife is accused of murdering their eight-year-old son, Peter.  He wants Max to look into similar cases and prove his wife is innocent. Max is intrigued by the three cold cases and quickly spots similarities, but one of the unsolved cases is of seven-year-old Justin Stanton and she’s facing a major road block if she doesn’t agree to work with FBI agent Lucy Kincaid, Justin’s aunt.

Max is infuriated by the forced partnering; both Lucy and Max like to run the show and don’t trust easily.  Max isn’t certain that Lucy won’t take over and run with all the information she’s uncovered, and Lucy’s not certain that Max won’t exploit her family’s tragedy for sensationalism and ratings.  Surprisingly, they end up working very well together; respect, trust, and admiration slowly growing between them. The dynamic between Max and Lucy was fascinating, each trying to figure each other out. They were great together, and I hope we get to see them work together again!

The process of getting to the bottom of the murders, trying to find a connection between them and understand the motivations of the murderer was riveting.  Lucy and Max both bring their talents to the table and tackle these heartbreaking, unsolved crimes.  It becomes imperative to find this person when they realize another child might be in danger! By the end things were very intense, and I was so nervous for all involved!

As far as reading the Lucy Kincaid series first, I don’t think it’s necessary. I have read the first Lucy Kincaid book and others where she’s a secondary character or in the periphery, so I did have some prior knowledge of her past, but her background is detailed enough in Shattered to grasp the emotional toll Justin’s murder had on Lucy and the family.  Justin and Lucy were best friends, both seven when he was abducted and murdered, a tragic event that forever shaped her future.

I think you could read Shattered as a standalone, but without reading the past Maxine Revere books you’d miss fundamental parts of her personality.  She’s driven to find the truth, and get justice for victims.  She can be kind of a bitch sometimes, but she’s totally grown on me!  Also, you wouldn’t understand the relationship struggles she’s having: with Nick, her boyfriend and David her assistant/bodyguard and platonic friend. I was pleased with the final outcomes. I wasn’t thrilled with Nick at all by the end of the last book. I’m happy that Max is finally recognizing that she needs and deserves more, especially after seeing the love and absolute trust between Sean and Lucy.

While this current mystery is solved to satisfaction, the last scene has me chomping at the bit to get the next Maxine Revere book! I haven’t seen any information on a release date, but I can’t wait!


Connect with Allison Brennan:

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Review: The Hunting Grounds by Katee Robert

The Hunting Grounds (Hidden Sins #2) by Katee Robert
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication date: July 25th 2017
My rating: 3.5 Stars
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

For two FBI agents with a past, love becomes a matter of life and death in the new Hidden Sins novel from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katee Robert.

Maggie Gaines used to be an FBI agent—top of her class and one of the bright, up-and-coming stars—until she spectacularly fell apart during her first high-profile case. That was eight years ago. Now she’s a ranger at Glacier National Park, and she’s found some measure of peace. But when the body of a murdered woman is discovered, she must finally put the past behind her and work with the one man she thought she’d never see again.

For months, Vic Sutherland has been hunting a killer who’s been targeting unsuspecting hikers in national parks—and now the predator has come to Glacier. Vic knows the case will bring him face-to-face with his former partner, yet nothing can prepare him for seeing Maggie again after all these years, or for the memories of passion it stirs in both of them.

As the investigation brings them closer together—and closer to the killer—Maggie and Vic fear they have only each other to trust. But even that might not be enough to make it out of Glacier alive.

My Thoughts:
I’ve enjoyed hiking, backpacking, and camping over the years, but I must confess on some of those trips I’ve gotten more than a little spooked at night imaging how easy it would be for a madman/killer to sneak up and take us out.  Eeeek!  The Hunting Grounds seemed to be just the kind of story I’ve envisioned happening at one time or another, so I knew I had to pick it up.  Crazy, right? Well, I’m the kind of girl who loves to tell scary stories by the campfire and freak everyone the heck out. I usually manage to scare myself senseless in the process, so the trip back to my tent to sleep is super fun.  So there you have it, I’m a little deranged!

Maggie used to be an FBI agent until a particularly gruesome case caused her to quit eight years ago.  These days she’s a park ranger at Glacier National Park where the most dangerous situation she faces involves bears or unprepared hikers. That all changes when she discovers a body of a woman, and must call in the FBI.  Work with her old partner, Vic, all the old feelings of attraction between them are brought up to the surface again as the work the case. It’s a race against time to find this killer before someone else is murdered.

It seems I read a lot of second chance romances.  I guess I just love the thought a couple getting another shot together after screwing up the first time. This wasn’t exactly a second chance romance, more unrequited lust/love situation.  Circumstances at the time prevented it from being anything else, but nothing holds Vic and Maggie back now.  It was a pleasure watching these two take a chance while trying to stay alive.  Life and death situations make it easy to sort out what’s important in life, so there’s no angsty back and forth.

There is a secondary story centering on a group of backpackers. Old high school friends who reunite to hike one of their favorite trails in Glacier.  But this isn’t one big happy reunion.  There’s trouble brewing between them; flash backs to the past gradually reveal what led to their current situation.  It quickly becomes apparent that their group is in danger.

I had fun with The Hunting Grounds even though I suspected the killer’s identity early on, I still didn’t know for sure, and had doubts on my theory up until the end.  It was an all-around solid romantic suspense/mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat wondering if our characters were all going to make it!   


 Connect with Katee Robert:

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Review: Seeing Red by Sandra Brown

Seeing Red by Sandra Brown
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: August 15th 2017
My rating: 5 Stars
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | TBD | Kobo | iBooks


He had nothing left to lose...except his life.

Kerra Bailey is a television journalist hot on the trail of a story guaranteed to skyrocket her career to even greater heights: an interview with the legendary Major Trapper. Twenty-five years ago, the Major was photographed leading a handful of survivors out of the collapsing Pegasus hotel shortly after it was bombed. The iconic picture transformed him into a beloved national icon—until he suddenly dropped out of the public eye, shunning all members of the media. And now Kerra is willing to use any means necessary to get to the Major—even if she has to wrangle an introduction from his estranged son, former ATF agent John Trapper.
Still seething over his break with both the ATF and his father, John Trapper wants no association with the hotel bombing or his hero father. Yet Kerra’s sheer audacity and tantalizing hints that there’s more to the story rouses Trapper’s interest. And when the interview of a lifetime goes catastrophically awry, Kerra and Trapper join forces and risk their very lives to expose the truth.

My Thoughts:
Sandra Brown is one of my all-time favorite mystery/romantic suspense writers so I was thrilled to get my hands on a copy of Seeing Red!  She starts off with a bang with the first page, as usual, and I was hooked from beginning to finish!

Kerra Bailey contacts John Trapper when all her efforts to get in touch with his father fail.  His father, The Major, is a hero, launched into the public eye back in 1992 when he led survivors out of The Pegasus Hotel bombing, an event that claimed 197 lives.  For John Trapper this event signaled the end of his quiet, happy life when his father enthusiastically latched onto the celebrity his actions incurred.

As an adult, Trapper took up an investigation of the bombing when his examination of the facts led to serious doubts that the case was solved.  This obsession eventually cost him his job at the ATF, so when Kerra shows up at his door asking for assistance he has no desire to help her. 

Kerra has her own reasons for wanting an interview with The Major, more personal than professional.  She’s determined to get the interview with or without Trapper assistance, but she can’t deny the pull she has to Trapper.  In the middle of the storm that follows Kerra’s meeting with The Major, Trapper and Kerra try and manage the sexual tension between them, all the while trying to get to the bottom of things, staying alive in the process. 

Sandra Brown is famous for here addictive writing.  Her cliffhanger type chapters are a sure hook for someone like me. I just wanted to keep reading and find out how it all ended!  Of course, she throws in twists, and turns.  I suspected a few and was surprised by several. I love it when an author can keep me guessing!

The romance between Kerra and John was half of the attraction; deliciously antagonistic, and utterly sexy!  I love Sandra Brown’s heroes! Trapper has a flash temper, a rude mouth, rugged and rough around the edges.  Just the kind of antihero this reader loves!  Kerra was principled, smart and determined; the perfect partner for Trapper to get to the bottom of these sinister plots.

Seeing Red is Sandra Brown at her finest and I can hardly wait until she writes her next book!

Connect with Sandra Brown:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads 

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